Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek had decided to take a break as a team. Life away from each other and away from beach volleyball, however, was not as exciting... so here they are, back in the sand and back together, playing in the main draw of the Beach Pro Tour Doha Challenge and aiming at next month’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Rome.
Wojtasik & Kociolek back for more in Doha
The Polish pair aim at World Championship qualification but will split again
Published 10:00, 06 May 2022
It was actually Wojtasik who needed some rest after years spent on the courts.
“I was ready for a long break. At the beginning it was nice, but after a couple of months I realised that it was so boring without beach volleyball and I started to practise again,” the 31-year-old Rio Olympian told Volleyball World. “Plans changed a little and now we will try to qualify for the World Champs.”
Kociolek also enjoyed a break after a strong end to the 2021 season, when the pair finished fifth at the Gstaad 4-star on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, ninth at the CEV European Championship in Vienna, second at the King of the Court tournament in Hamburg and first in Poland’s national championship.
“I had a two-and-a-half-month break. I don’t remember when I had such a long break between seasons,” said the 27-year-old defender. “But it was needed. During this time, I spent a lot of time with my family, my boyfriend and my friends. I was also catching up with my Master's degree in Psychology in Management at university. I had a short trip to Greece and in October I took part in a beach camp organised by Aleksandrs Samoilovs. I went there as a coach. It was a really great experience! During this off-season I also rested a lot and got ready to come back with new energy!”
As soon as the new 2022 Beach Pro Tour began in March, Kociolek was back on the court competing at the inaugural Tlaxcala Challenge in Mexico with a new partner, 18-year-old Melania Marcinowska.
“We played two qualification games there. First, we did a really good job against a team from USA and we won 2-0. Our second game against Canada was quite the opposite. We couldn’t find ways to score a good point and we lost quite easily. But in general, I think the second qualification round for a new team and a young player like my partner was not a bad finish.”
The Doha Challenge tournament, which is currently taking place in Qatar, is Wojtasik and Kociolek’s first step towards the World Championship after reuniting. They are ranked 16th in the world and seeded 12th in the Doha main draw.
“I’m very excited about playing in Doha. I played in Mexico almost two months ago and I am so hungry for some games! And for some better weather because it is maximum 15 degrees in Poland these days,” said Kociolek. “We didn’t practice a lot together before this tournament, but we have played together for five years, so I think we will find our rhythm very fast. We just want to have fun on the court and fight for a good result and for more points.”
Kinga and Kasia teamed up towards the end of the 2017 season and immediately made the podium at their first World Tour event with a Qinzhou 3-star silver. In 2018, they made the final four at the Espinho 4-star, and in 2019, they snatched a European Championship silver.
For Wojtasik, who won the 2009 FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championship title and a couple of Grand Slam medals along with Monika Brzostek, among many achievements in her long career, the Doha tournament will mark her Beach Pro Tour debut.
“The Beach Pro Tour is something new for me and I’m glad to be part of it,” she said. “As we didn’t plan to play with Kasia at all this season, now I just hope that we will have fun on the court. That’s our plan for the next tournaments as well.”
Wojtasik and Kociolek have also signed up to play at the next Beach Pro Tour events later this month, ahead of the World Championship, the Kusadasi Challenge and the Ostrava Elite16. However, regardless of whether they qualify for Rome, their plan is to stop playing together after that. Kasia will move on with a new teammate, while Kinga is thinking of giving that break idea another try.
“We would really love to qualify for the World Championship. If we do, we will play together until then,” Kociolek said. “After that, I will play the rest of the season with my new partner Marta Lodej. There are a lot of Beach Pro Tour events and Polish tournaments, so we will have a lot of opportunities to test ourselves and get used to playing together. I want to improve my game and enjoy my time on the court. These are the general goals for me this season.”
“If we make it to the World Champs, that will be our last tournament this season,” Wojtasik confirmed. “Then it’s hard to say what the future holds for me. I’m trying to have a baby and that will influence my next moves in beach volleyball.”